5 Conclusions - 08/06/18
A regular look at gaming-related stories from the past week or so whereby conclusions are drawn from anything and everything. These may be incredibly well reasoned based on events from the week. Alternatively, they may be highly speculative, drawn from very little evidence. More likely, they will be somewhere in between.
Conclusion One: Publishers should be afraid, very afraid
Last year Ninja Theory, developers of Heavenly Sword and the Devil May Cry reboot, had great success last year with their most recent game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Not only in terms of the reception the game got and how it performed, but the fact they self-published and therefore everything good and bad about it was down entirely to them.
PlatinumGames decided to do something very similar last year, working on smaller projects and owning everything themselves. This drive to self-publish is fuelled by their desire to have control in what happens to the IP they create in a multitude of ways, not least in what happens next. Given they have made all manner of amazing games such as Vanquish which haven’t seen a sequel because someone else owns the rights (Sega in that case), it would be brilliant to see their next big title succeed and simply be followed by another.
Yes, Bayonetta is getting a second sequel but here that’s because Nintendo stepped in after Sega again said no dice. An extra bonus in not having another party get a say in your games is that you have total control over that game as well, with no need to make changes due to your licensor. Perhaps best of all, you don’t suddenly have the rug pulled from under you as Microsoft did with Scalebound.
As Ninja Theory have succeeded with this approach, and PlatinumGames will no doubt, perhaps other high quality developers will go a similar way, ensuring they survive and thrive alone. What of the publishers then?
Conclusion Two: The day the music died
In the mid-noughties Harmonix took the rhythm action genre and dialled it up to eleven - you know, one louder - with the birth of Guitar Hero. Through countless sequels and the creation of Rock Band, annual releases of peripheral-based music games were plentiful and as successful as anything else at the time. Turn of the decade and things changed. The bubble burst, and to this day I’m not sure why.
In 2015 Activision tried to resurrect it all with a reboot of Guitar Hero, in the guise of Guitar Hero Live. It didn’t work. The game died. But many folks had purchased it, excited in particular by the Guitar Hero TV streaming music service. Instead of supplying gamers with weekly tracks by way of DLC — the main way of supporting these games with new tracks until then — it provided songs for free on rotation. Right now there are 484 songs. On December 1st, 2018 the service will be shut down. With that I suspect the whole genre will be long-gone. Hardware manufacturing can be tough as well as the genre falling into a trough it just can’t get out of and that means this year is the end, unfortunately.
Conclusion Three: Valve has really let off Steam
The other week Steam was in the news due to the pending release, and eventual removal, of a game with an abhorrent topic and nature.
Now this week Valve has updated us via the Steam blog on their approach to letting, or not letting games onto the Steam store. The principle is that unless a game’s illegal, or obvious trolling (part of the rationale for removing the aforementioned game), then anything goes. Valve is not willing to get into a discussion about principles and values as, is mentioned in the blog post, different people have different points of view and as such Valve cannot speak for everyone. So they won’t try to.
I suspect there is a resource issue at play here, too, in that the sheer number of titles submitted to Steam would require immense effort to police if doing more than checks for legality, trolling and technical aspects.
Is this passing the buck, or does the argument make sense? We'll have a bigger piece on this later today.
Conclusion Four: Sony will win E3
E3 is next week. This is the event in the gaming calendar for all the companies to announce their biggest games, their most exciting hardware ideas and provide all of the detail behind previously released titles. Sony will talk about Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us II, Kojima’s Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushima from Sucker Punch and Spider-Man which Insomniac will be bringing us in September. That’s a lot of big stuff, and you’ll want to catch their presentation which is happening at 6 PM Pacific time on the 11th of June.
But Sony has started early. They actually began revealing stuff this week, with an announcement daily since Wednesday, where they announced Tetris Effect for PS4 and PSVR. Check out the trailer below for some trippy stuff:
Coming from the folks who gave us Rez and Lumines this should be a darling of puzzle game lovers and in VR will likely take some beating. On Thursday they announced the Days Gone release date, which is set as 22nd February 2019.
We’ll get further announcements or teasers today, Saturday and Sunday, all leading up to the big one on Monday, as mentioned before. All of this added up, plus the way Sony have been doing E3 recently, and this console generation, to be a win for them over and above anyone else (NB: Nintendo might well have a megaton but they’re playing their own game, as always).
Conclusion Five: Clementine will die
Or perhaps not if you have anything to say in the matter? Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season comes out August 14th this year and sees you playing as Clementine, the lost little girl from 2012’s first season as an adult, looking after an orphaned boy named A.J.
There will be upgraded visuals, unscripted combat and an emotional season overall. Obviously. But how will it end spoiler-folks? We don’t know of course, but I suspect that this will be down to you. I don’t think the developers can force you to watch Clem die after all she’s been through. Equally it’s a game about zombies and having gotten this far is a surprise. So perhaps there will be multiple endings, one where we mirror season one’s finale and another where we get that god-damn happy ending that everyone actually, you know, deserves.